America, Observed: Garry Winogrand’s Show Opens at SFMOMA


“I feel like the world is a place I bought a ticket to,” the photographer Garry Winogrand is quoted saying in Garry Winogrand, now at SFMOMA. This unprecedentedly comprehensive exhibition, consisting of hundreds of snapshot photographs taken between the early 1950s and the time of the prolific artist’s early death in 1984, offers viewers a ringside seat to the unique spectacle of American society as it mutated over the course of those incredible decades–an opportunity not to be passed up. 

Strolling through this rather gargantuan show, one has to wonder why recognition of Winogrand is so late in coming, compared to peers of his like Diane Arbus and Lee Friedlander who likewise aimed their lenses at postwar America. Winogrand’s eye is virtuosic, allowing him to frame the most momentary of events – a man lunging into the ocean with a woman in tow, a couple strolling by with their pet monkeys – in the most striking way possible. It seems like Winogrand was always at the exact right place at the right time.

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